by Sen. Alan Olsen
Salem, Ore. – Last week, the Joint Interim Committee on Department of Energy Oversight discussed a recent audit of the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) program.
The first independent audit of the ODOE Business Energy Tax Credit program, released Sept. 7, uncovered concerns with nearly $350 million in tax credits, or over one third of the $1 billion program.
“Despite repeated calls for an independent investigation of ODOE’s Business Energy Tax Credit program, our cries largely went unanswered,” explained Sen. Alan Olsen (R-Canby). “In fact, Michael Kaplan himself – the director of ODOE – responded to this recent audit by saying that the number of concerning tax credits has likely been underestimated in this recent report. The Secretary of State and Governor Brown’s administration should aggressively pursue any fraud in the BETC program that would likely cost taxpayers millions of dollars.” Continue reading
By Lydia White
In accordance with House Bill 2941, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is making recommendations to the Oregon State Legislature to ensure Oregon’s solar energy incentives are equitable, efficient, and effective.
One recommendation is to modify the compensation method for solar energy, net metering. Under net metering, solar owners consume energy their panels produce. When energy produced is insufficient, solar owners purchase additional energy from traditional sources. When excess energy is produced, solar owners sell energy. Solar owners are compensated at above-market rates and are exempt from paying their portion of incurred costs. Such costs include operation and maintenance of the grid and “spinning reserves,” the alternative power source utility companies run continuously in case solar produces less energy than projected. The state’s incentive structure shifts costs from solar owners to non-solar ratepayers. As the number of solar owners increases, ratepayers bear higher costs. The PUC is recommending these costs instead be shifted to taxpayers. While the PUC proposal’s efforts to alleviate inequity are commendable, their proposed recommendations still constrain Oregonians. Continue reading
by Sen. Doug Whitsett
State legislators were in Salem this week to attend committee meetings during Legislative Days. Representative Gail Whitsett participated in her five assigned committees while I participated in my four assigned committees, as well as the Senate floor session to confirm Governor Brown’s appointments.
My first meeting took place with the Joint Interim Task Force on Funding for Fish, Wildlife and Related Outdoor Recreation and Education which convened on Friday, September 16. The Task force is attempting to establish a new and stable source of revenue to fund an $80 million per biennium increase in Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) budgets. During that meeting, Task Force members discussed the outreach its members are doing with stakeholders, who deal regularly with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, to explain the proposed budget increase of more than 20 percent. We also worked on defining key questions and decision points for the task force, developing the group’s next steps and identifying its key messages. My personal opinion is that ODFW must undergo significant consolidation and prioritization of its myriad programs, and must continue its efforts to deal with inefficiencies and program duplication before the legislature should even consider additional funding for the agency. Continue reading
by Ronald A. Buel
Jeff Gudman is running against Tobias Read (Democrat) and Chris Telfer (Independent) for the Position of State Treasurer. Why would a long-time Democratic activist like me be supporting a Republican for this office? I am sure that Tobias Read agrees with more of my own policy positions than does Jeff Gudman, for example.
But State Treasurer is not your typical partisan office, nor is it a typical stepping-stone to Governor (such as Secretary of State, for example). In fact, Gudman openly declares that he is not going to run for Governor at any time — he wants only to be Treasurer — or I wouldn’t be supporting him.
Simply put, Gudman is more qualified to be Treasurer than Tobias Read. He is currently the Treasurer of the Legacy Emanuel Foundation, and he has held the Treasurer positions for Hyster and for subsidiaries of Northwest Natural Gas. He is a graduate of Wharton School of Economics and holds an MBA in finance and business from that school. He serves as a City Councilor in Lake Oswego, where he is a leader on matters of budget and finance. Continue reading
Knute Buehler for State Representative
Rep. Buehler works for policies that support small business, grow tech sector and strengthen education
A cross section of local business owners and business advocacy groups have announced their endorsement of Knute Buehler for state representative of Bend. This year Rep. Buehler has toured a broad range of local businesses from tech companies to manufacturers and craft distillers, where he’s heard consensus on the need to strengthen the state’s education system to improve Oregon’s economy, grow jobs, and increase wages.
“As I talk with local business owners about their challenges and opportunities, I consistently hear about the need for a well-educated workforce,” said Rep. Buehler. “That’s why I’ve worked across aisle to support increased funding for STEM education and am endorsing Measure 98 to combat Oregon’s high school drop-out rate. I’m proud to have the support of our local business community, and I’ll continue to work closely with them so I can represent their interests in Salem.” Continue reading
Right From the Start
The Federal Reserve will meet Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. There is endless speculation about whether the Board will raise interest rates or delay a decision until its December meeting. Much of the speculation in the media this past week has been about the low “unemployment” numbers and the low inflation rate. The popular “wisdom” is that continued low unemployment numbers are likely to spur inflation – they haven’t yet. (For those of you who have suffered through a teachers union led K-12 education in the Portland Public Schools this means that if there is low unemployment that there is greater competition for labor and that stirs wage increases which in turn stimulates inflation.)
There are a couple of problems with those assumptions. First, the figures used by the Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics and relied upon by the Federal Reserve do not actually represent the number or percentage of people unemployed. Rather it represents the number of people who have registered to receive welfare in the form of unemployment compensation. It does not include those who have given up looking for work, those who are working part time but are seeking full time employment, or those who have exhausted their unemployment compensation – those combined numbers are legion. It is bad enough that President Barack Obama seeks to mislead us as to the status of economic recovery by citing those unemployment numbers, but to have the Federal Reserve citing those same numbers as evidence of “full employment” or as a “trigger” for inflation is just downright dangerous. Continue reading
Oregon Senate Republicans
In case you missed it
PERS ideas offer start for reform
Corvallis Gazette-Times Editorial Board
September 15, 2016
It would be an understatement to say that the Oregon Legislature has been unwilling to tackle any kind of serious reform regarding the state’s Public Employees Retirement System.
In fact, the party line, so to speak, has been something along these lines: “We tried in 2013, and we got slapped down by the state Supreme Court and now there’s nothing else that we can do.”
Some of that is true: Legislators did make an effort to rein in some of the rising costs of PERS, and the court did in fact rule that most of those efforts were unconstitutional. Continue reading
By Steve Buckstein
How many attorneys do you know who make their living defending liberty? Well, 43 attorneys work full-time at the national public interest law firm Institute for Justice. They protect school choice, economic liberty, the First Amendment, and private property. Supported by generous donors, the Institute for Justice never charges its clients.
Founded 25 years ago, the Institute for Justice has litigated over 200 cases, including five before the U.S. Supreme Court, where it won four times. The fifth case led to the infamous Kelo decision, where the Court unfortunately seemed to forget that private property cannot be taken through eminent domain for a “public purpose,” but only for a “public use.” Continue reading
by NW Spotlight
New Jersey pipe bombing – possible terrorism: CNN reported that an “explosion that went off in a garbage can Saturday morning in a New Jersey beach town likely was timed to disrupt a Marine Corps charity run,” and that it was “three pipe-bomb-type devices wired together,” “with some type of timer, and only one of them detonated.” No injuries were reported in the bombing because “registration problems at the starting line delayed the start of the race, which meant no one was near the garbage can when the explosion happened.”
Reuters reported the NJ pipe bombing is being “probed as possible terrorism.” Reuters also noted “the [New Jersey] explosion stirred dark memories of the bomb blasts at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013 that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others,” where “two brothers of Chechen ethnicity who professed allegiance to Islamist militants planted homemade bombs near the finish line… in the most high profile attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.” Continue reading
by Sen. Doug Whitsett
The American Conservative Union (ACU) is the nation’s premier conservative group supporting Americans who are concerned with personal responsibility, traditional values, a strong national defense and the preservation of liberty. The Washington D.C.-based organization is the national leader for providing conservative positions on issues to Congress, the Executive Branch, State Legislatures, the media, political candidates and the public.
The ACU is the only organization in the nation to rate the conservative voting records of state legislators. It researches and selects a wide range of bills that reflect a member’s adherence to government integrity, as well as economic, social and cultural conservative principles.
This year, the ACU produced a detailed scorecard across the full spectrum of conservative issues for over 8,000 individual legislators in all 50 state legislative bodies. Legislators with the strongest scores consistently voted with the ideals articulated in the U.S. Constitution and reflect how they view the role of government in an individual’s life. Legislators in each state who score above 80 percent receive awards for their commitment to conservative principles. Continue reading
Please join Cascade Policy Institute’s staff and board, and many freedom-loving Oregonians, as we celebrate 25 years promoting individual liberty, personal responsibility, and economic opportunity in Oregon.
Our Keynote Speaker will be the newest Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, Clint Bolick. When appointing him to the Court earlier this year, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) said, “Clint is nationally renowned and respected as a constitutional law scholar and as a champion of liberty.”
Clint co-founded the libertarian public interest law firm Institute for Justice the same year we founded Cascade and has been a fierce defender of individual, economic, and educational liberty even longer. He successfully defended school choice programs in two state supreme courts, and his work led to victory in a critical school choice case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002. Continue reading
By Taxpayer Association of Oregon
Measure 97’s huge $3 billion tax will raise food, clothing & utility prices by around $1,200 for the average Oregon family. Oregon seniors share how this $1,200 cost increase impacts them.
by NW Spotlight
Businesses start-ups at an all-time low (in Oregon and nationally)
Yesterday’s Oregon Economic and Revenue Forecast from the State of Oregon’s Department of Administrative Services, Office of Economic Analysis, contains a chart showing that Oregon lags the nation in business start-ups. The forecast also notes that business start-ups are at an all-time low, in Oregon and across the nation.
click to enlarge
Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli
House Republican Leader Mike McLane
Salem, Ore. – Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) responded to yesterday’s September revenue forecast update with the following statement:
“While we’ve experienced recent economic growth, our state budget is not on a sustainable path. Hidden within the robust state employment average and breezy rhetoric about the strength of our economy is the stark reality of extreme poverty and chronic joblessness in rural areas where families are struggling to make ends meet. We’re facing $68 million in lost revenue next biennium, and a projected $153 million less in 2019-2021. With slower growth expected in the years to come, it’s time for the legislature to tighten its belt and start spending within our means so working Oregon families and small businesses don’t pay the price.” Continue reading
Right From the Start
Trump’s Bromance With Putin
I am fascinated by the media’s obsession with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s views of Russian President Vladmir Putin. The media narrative is that Mr. Trump “admires” Mr. Putin and by implication would yield to Mr. Putin’s ambitions. In a word, “Bullsh*t.”
We know this is just campaign rhetoric emanating from the Hillary Clinton smear campaign because of how dutifully every Democrat and every mainstream media personality uses the exact same words to describe Mr. Trump. And we know that it is the height of hypocrisy by the Clinton camp given how often President Barack Obama (with Ms. Clinton as his Secretary of State) knuckled under to Mr. Putin’s demands, stretching from the “reset” fiasco, through the Syrian “red line,” through the invasion of the Crimea, through the Iran nuclear giveaway, through the Russian sale of missile technology to Iran, up to the most recent outrage where Mr. Obama’s newest Secretary of State, John Kerry caved into all of the Russian demands regarding the latest attempt at a cease fire in Syria – the net result being our abandonment of the Syrian rebels which will leave them no choice but to join ISIS after which we have agreed to attack them in conjunction with Russian and Syrian forces. What a leader we have!
Colm for Congress
Colm Willis, candidate for Congress, urged Kurt Schrader to debate him in every county in Oregon’s 5th district. Schrader has agreed to appear jointly with Willis at only two events, ignoring the voters in Polk, Lincoln, Benton, and Tillamook Counties. Schrader has been invited to appear at an event in Polk County but has failed to accept.
“I want each and every voter in congressional district 5 to be as informed as possible about the options available to them for their Representatives in Washington D.C. and I believe Kurt wants the same.” Willis continued “While I would like to do as many events as possible to reach the most voters possible, I am willing to compromise to accommodate Kurt’s busy schedule which I’m sure is full of meetings with lobbyists and special interests in D.C.” Continue reading
Dennis Richardson for Secretary of State
Oregonians share how the Secretary of State can create positive impacts for families
Central Point, OR – Candidate for Secretary of State Dennis Richardson yesterday launched his “From the Heart” television campaign featuring reform-minded Oregonians sharing with voters how the Secretary of State can positively impact the issues for which they advocate.
“Since the beginning of this race, I’ve been focused on how the office of Secretary of State can be used in a way to bring real reforms to the issues that are on the minds of Oregon families,” stated Richardson, a former 12-year legislator and Ways and Means Co-Chair. “When used as intended, the Secretary of State has the authority to audit failing programs like our foster care system, investigate why our public schools are low-performing, and follow-through on newly passed legislation.” Continue reading
By John A. Charles, Jr.
September 5 marked the official 30th anniversary of the opening of TriMet’s light rail system. Like many Portland residents, I took a free ride that day and felt that this was a big step forward for transit service.
Unfortunately, actual performance never lived up to the hype. My hopes for “high-speed” transit were dashed when I discovered how many stops there were. The average train speed today is only 18 MPH.
My expectation that MAX would include five or six train cars was also incorrect. There are only two cars per train on MAX, and there will never be more than two cars because Portland has 200-foot blocks in downtown. Longer trains would block busy intersections. Continue reading
by Jeff Gudman
Bureaucrats in Salem have pulled the wool over taxpayers eyes again.
The controversial Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is quietly transforming into a secret subsidy for existing light rail and other mass transit, rather than the intended purpose of lowering emissions.
It was recently reported that officials are considering allowing existing streetcars, light rail and electric bus lines in Portland and Eugene to trade LCFS credits to gas companies.
The goal of the law was to compel fuel companies to produce cleaner gasoline. Companies who invest in refining processes that reduce carbon emission would get a “gold star” (to use a grade school metaphor) as a reward that they can then sell to companies who didn’t. Continue reading
Sen. Betsy Johnson and Sen. Tim Knopp
Salem, Ore. – Oregon’s Legislative Counsel has released a legal opinion on the constitutionality of possible Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) reforms. Of the reforms analyzed, seven were deemed likely constitutional.
Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) and Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) are spearheading the Bipartisan PERS Solutions Work Group. Any Oregonian interested in pursuing fair, constitutional PERS reform is invited to participate. Invitations have also been sent to a broad, bipartisan coalition of school administrators, local government officials, and labor and business groups representing a variety of interests across the state. Continue reading